Author Topic: Extensive Reading with an Impoverished Vocabulary  (Read 456 times)

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Offline agreenf2

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Extensive Reading with an Impoverished Vocabulary
« on: May 07, 2020, 05:23:49 PM »
One of the most frustrating things for language learners who already love to read or even for ones that don't is not being to understand enough words in the text. To read the books that you really want to read, you either have to look up so many words that the reading process becomes very tedious or you have to accept the fact that you will not understand the story well. Or finally you could just look for a graded read, which may not always be the most exciting thing to read.

I think one viable option for solving this dilemma (one that I practice frequently myself) is reading books that you have already read in your first language and know the story well. For example, my knowledge of vocabulary in Korean is low, far too low for me to read a novel even a young adult's novel comfortable. Therefore, I have elected to reread Harry Potter in Korean. Since I know the story well, I can read without having to look up all the words I don't know and still understand what is happening. I also even pick up new words as I read.

This may seems like a one person example, but I think it fits well with what research states about schema helping people comprehend reading better.
If I had chosen to read a book that I was unfamiliar with and particularly one from Korean culture. I would be fighting against more things than just the language. I would be struggling with a new story and new storytelling conventions. Rereading can help focus on just the language.

Some ideas for implementing this as teachers:

Choose a very popular book that most students would have read in the past.

Have students watch a movie before they read the book (oh the horror! :o ). This could provide motivation to read the book and help with understanding. This also could lead to interesting discussions about books vs. movies and could tie into discussion of what is important to read and what is not description vs. narrative.

In EFL setting, assign students to read a book, article or story in their own language first. Then have them read it again in the language they are learning. This could lead to great discussion about translations, storytelling conventions, and writing structure.